LinkedIn better get ready for their first real post-IPO test. Social giant, Facebook, is rumored to be close to releasing a job advertising service later this summer. According to a report by the WSJ, “Facebook Jobs” will aggregate job postings from a variety of sources and make them available in one place creating a searchable repository of jobs for users to browse. If the rumors are true, this likely will be a wildly popular service for many of Facebook’s 900,000,000 registered users.

The WSJ reports that Facebook plans to use the job postings service to initially boost engagement metrics. This also indicates that they will look to monetize “recruiting” as a revenue stream, immediately creating a giant, cash-rich competitor for sites like Indeed.com and SimplyHired, LinkedIn and other more traditional recruitment advertising vendors. This will create another valuable revenue source for Facebook, which is presently dependent primarily on social ads and virtual payments. And, with corporate job data and detailed information about job seekers, Facebook could use the “social fabric” to provide a powerful global recruiting solution that will almost instantly rival, if not instantly surpass, LinkedIn.

The market is ripe for another big player.

Last week, I participated on a talent acquisition panel sponsored by BAHREC and covered by the editor-in-chief of ERE.net, Todd Raphael.  When LinkedIn came up as part of the conversation, it was evident that they’ve created some negative equity with the experts and attendees. The general sentiment was that LinkedIn products have become increasingly expensive while the effectiveness of once popular tools, like InMail, has fizzled. Also, LinkedIn has built walls around their garden of talent by blocking access to valuable pieces of their development API.

While some naysayers have poo-pooed Facebook’s rumored entry into the recruiting world, I believe there’s a real opportunity here. Sure, Facebook may just be firing salvos at LinkedIn to make them nervous, but there are 3 reasons that Facebook will matter in the talent acquisition sooner, rather than later:

1.  Facebook has an open platform strategy that makes developing recruiting and job advertising tools relatively easy for developers.  Their API is open, flexible and well-documented, making it easy for companies to develop Facebook apps like Newton’s NOW HIRING that provide value to for Facebook recruiting. This will encourage app developers to create an ecosystem of recruiting related tools with little risk. More developers equal more apps. More apps equal more users.

2.  Facebook has other well-established revenue streams that have so far proven sustainable, like advertising and micro-payments.  This allows Facebook to test the waters with little pressure while building and analyzing engagement metrics. And, they can afford to offer quite a bit of access to their massive social fabric for free. Employers like free.

3. The numbers don’t lie. Facebook is “the” social network with over 900 million registered users and growing. Recruiting has always been a numbers game and always will. No network has ever had the potential or the sheer mass that Facebook can offer employers. And, another user statistic that I find particularly compelling is that 93% of Millennials maintain a Facebook page. That’s a lot of dry powder (and goofy pictures).

So what should LinkedIn do?

In my mind, the best strategy would be to engage those entities that they have walled off before. Instead of forcing users of job posting boards, ATS systems and CRM vendors to access LinkedIN content only in LinkedIN, they should be allowing for deep integrations that offer a “greater than the sum of its parts” solution. Why? Because then all those vendors could and would be selling LinkedIn accounts for LinkedIn. LinkedIn could effectively develop a channel strategy to increase growth and investors.  Alas, the chance of this happening is about as likely as my hometown of Cleveland (aka the Mistake by the Lake) winning a sports championship.

Who is going to win?

Who’s going to win when Facebook storms into recruiting? Well, just about everyone. LinkedIn may disagree. Undoubtedly, the added competition is welcomed by many LinkedIn customers who depend on LinkedIn’s tools but are becoming increasingly tired of the high-costs and eroding results. Regardless, competition will only benefit us, the employers and job seekers. I say bring it on. Let the games begin.

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